Chairman of Dubai-based Afras Ventures and former Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations, Dr. Shashi Tharoor was the official candidate of India for the succession to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in 2006, and came a close second out of seven contenders in the race. He currently serves as the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information. His career began in 1978, when he joined the staff of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Geneva, and includes key responsibilities in peace-keeping after the Cold War and as a senior adviser to the Secretary-General.
Dr. Tharoor is also the award-winning author of nine books, as well as hundreds of articles, op-eds and book reviews in a wide range of publications, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the International Herald Tribune, Time, Newsweek and The Times of India. He has served for two years as a Contributing Editor and occasional columnist for Newsweek International. Since April 2001 he has authored a fortnightly column in The Hindu and since January 2007 in The Times of India.
His five non-fiction books include: Reasons of State (1981), a study of Indian foreign-policy making; India: From Midnight to the Millennium (1997), which was cited by President Clinton in his address to the Indian Parliament; Nehru: The Invention of India (2003), a biography of India's first Prime Minister, and a collection of literary essays, Bookless in Baghdad (2005). His three novels are the classic The Great Indian Novel (1989) which is required reading in several courses on post-colonial literature; Riot (2001), a searing examination of Hindu-Muslim violence in contemporary India, and Show Business (1992) which received a front-page accolade in the New York Times Book Review and has since been made into a motion picture, "Bollywood". Shashi Tharoor's books have been translated into French, German, Italian, Malayalam, Marathi, Polish, Romanian, Russian and Spanish.
Born in London in 1956, Dr. Tharoor was educated in India and the United States, completing a Ph. D. in 1978 at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, where he received the Robert B. Stewart Prize for Best Student. At Fletcher, Shashi Tharoor helped found and was the first Editor of the Fletcher Forum of International Affairs, a journal now in its 31st year.
Dr. Tharoor has given hundreds of radio and TV interviews and over a hundred major speeches around the world on the work of the UN, on contemporary international issues, on the media and communications, and on today's India, in addition to literary speeches and readings. A compelling and effective speaker, he has delivered keynote addresses to audiences as varied as the World Conference of Mayors, the Asian Media Summit, the Royal College of Defence Studies, the Aspen Ideas Festival, the International Communications Association and the IndUs Entrepreneurs. He is fluent in English and French.
In January 1998, Dr. Tharoor was named a "Global Leader of Tomorrow" by the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. He is the recipient of several awards, including a Commonwealth Writers' Prize, and was named to India's highest honour for Overseas Indians, the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman, in 2004. He serves on the Board of Overseers of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, the board of trustees of the Aspen Institute India, and the Advisory Board of the World Policy Journal. He is also a Fellow of the New York Institute of the Humanities.